Book & Magazine Reviews

Stephen Lambe - 'Citizens Of Hope And Glory - The Story Of Progressive Rock' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 17, 2012    
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192 page volume introduction to the subject.

Published by: Amberley Publishing

Let’s face it, I am a music whore. Perhaps I’d better qualify that and comment that I simply love most types of music, and I cannot imagine a time when I would not want it in my life. Rap music and all associated genres I can certainly do without, and I am really not a fan of funk and high opera. Of the rest, progressive rock (and metal) music comes high on my list of musical preferences and for this particular issue of Fireworks, I seem to have had more than my fair share of progressive music to reflect and comment upon, including this 192 page volume introduction to the subject.

I had better declare immediately that the author is an acquaintance of mine, to the extent that as I was reading the book I could hear him uttering the words to me! He is one of the Directors of the Classic Rock Society of which organization I have now been a member for over ten years. He is also thirteen years younger than me, and consequently he writes about the late 60s and through to the mid 70s as a historian rather than from any sort of experiential perspective, as could I. And yet, he completely summarizes this ground-breaking epoch and melting pot for rock music in its various guises with unerring accuracy and verve! I frequently found myself smiling broadly at his comments and assessments, for so often did they correspond with my own memories and actual perspective.

On the other hand, I found his timeline of progressive rock through the 80s to be a very strange overview indeed. His coverage of this period I found to be almost completely at odds with my personal recollections and yet, the more I have reflected upon Lambe’s assessment of the music of this decade, the more I am prepared to concede to him that he probably has a point, especially when talking about 1970s poseurs becoming 1980s innovators. Thus, bands such as Japan, Talk Talk and Tears For Fears and other art-pop combos are discussed, along with “the last twitchings of the old guard” and a discussion of “the strange case of Sky: the band that should never have been”.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Right from the outset, Lambe makes it clear that this volume makes “no attempt to be comprehensive”, and that is both its strength and its achille’s heel. It is a very readable book, and one that I will return to frequently to help inform some back catalogue purchases (his assessment of over 60 selected prog rock albums is invaluable) but the placement of some of the themes (such as “cover art and design” and “technology and progressive rock”) seem to spoil the flow of the narrative somewhat, and might better have been covered at the end or as appendices, perhaps.

Nevertheless, this is a volume that can be heartily recommended both to the hardened Progrock aficionado and to the casual enthusiast. The latter might find themselves drawn into the former grouping!

Paul Jerome Smith

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